It’s the middle of February and Valentine’s Day is upon us, so you can probably guess what this post is about. Yes, Love. But before you roll your eyes, or run away screaming, just bear with me for a bit. I guarantee I’m not going where you think I am with that.
I’m not gonna lie, the first 6 weeks of 2016 have been tough. I didn’t even blend a family and I can tell you that this blended family thing is haaaaard. Going through a divorce, hard. Learning to be a single parent, hard. Helping my kids (and myself) through the transition of their dad getting remarried, I had no idea.
I’ve been saying it all along, my head knows that nothing, absolutely NO-THING, can replace me as my kiddos’ mom. My head has had that thought on repeat for the past couple of months. I just wish my heart would catch up to the idea. Every other Thursday when my babies leave for the weekend with their dad, my heart breaks a little, knowing that they are not only spending that time with their dad, but also growing a relationship with another mother figure.
Don’t get me wrong, I WANT them to have a relationship with their step-mom. And I want them to be close with her. But I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt somewhat.
So, as we’ve been riding the rollercoaster of learning how to do this, I’ve tried to remind myself to find what my heart needs.
A couple weeks ago, knowing that I needed a break from the familiar everyday reminders of what life is now, Brian and I loaded up the car for a weekend in the woods. We drove to Table Rock Lake and spent a blissful weekend, with shockingly high temps for January, hiking, watching the sunset, playing pool and ping-pong (I went down gloriously at both) and sitting by the fireplace drinking wine. It was perfect. It was exactly what my heart, and my head, needed.
While it would be really nice to just jump in the car and drive to a cabin in the woods whenever I felt the anxiety or the sadness or the frustration start to overwhelm me, that’s just not realistic. Fortunately, I do have an old friend, that never lets me down when I need a break from reality. His name is running. He will go the distance with me, or if I don’t have time for a long visit, short and sweet works for him too. The other day, we got another brief break from the cold of January, and while I only had time for 3 short miles, running came through. It was one of those perfect experiences where my feet felt light, my lungs felt full and my heart felt happy.
So, back to the whole Valentine’s Day thing. February 14, to a lot of people, is really just another day. A Hallmark Holiday. I totally get that. But for me, it’s undeniably special. This Sunday, while couples all over the world are exchanging flowers and chocolates (Yes, I have something for my sweetie, too) I will actually be celebrating the 13th anniversary of the day I became a mom.
I say all the time that God knew exactly what he was doing when He gave me Ally first. I also say that if Silas had been first, he would probably be an only child, but that’s beside the point.
Ally becomes a teenager on Sunday. My baby girl, who was the best Valentine ever, is about to turn 13. With this milestone, it’s hard not to be even more reflective that usual. 13 is a big deal.
But here’s the hard part. This Sunday, Ally will wake up at my house and we’ll have cake for breakfast cause that’s how we roll. And then she will go back to her dad’s and spend the rest of the day there, because that’s how the custody schedule works.
Fortunately, I get tomorrow with her, so we’ll get pedicures and drink Starbucks and I will probably even take her shopping (her choice, not mine). I’ve wrapped her presents and I’m working on her requested One Direction birthday cake. I’m open to ideas on that one. Anyone?
But then she will go and spend the rest of the weekend with her other family, the one I’m not a part of. I will be ok. This is something that it took me a while to get used to, because anyone who knows me at all, knows that I LOVE Birthdays. Seriously, I love them. I make a huge deal out of them. My mom always does the same, so I come by it honestly. But I will be ok. Because I know what my heart needs. My heart just needs to be reminded that I am her mom and I always will be.
There’s a quote by Elizabeth Stone that goes, “Making a decision to have a child—it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
My heart turns 13 on Sunday, and even though she won’t be with me all day, she will be well loved, by many. I can’t help but think about the song I used to sing to her as a baby. I would sit and hold her and sing to her. I would keep singing long after her eyes would close and she would drift off to sleep.
The song begins, “You’re a little piece of heaven, You’re a golden ray of light, And I wish I could protect you from the worries of this life…”
Since I can’t sing you the whole song, you can check it out here.
She’s still my little piece of heaven, and now she is a BOLD golden ray of light that shines brighter all the time. No matter how old she gets, I will always want to protect her. As she crosses the threshold of 13, I know that so many heartbreaks are right around the corner for her, but she is strong and I will walk with her through anything. I could not be more proud of the person she is and who she is becoming. She is so beautiful, inside and out. She is smart, and determined, and loving, and thoughtful and she is not afraid to stand up for herself.
I know my heart will be ok, because even when it wonders off, it always comes back. And I know who is holding my heart in His hands. Because He knows what my heart needs even before I do.
There are seasons in life that are hard, it’s just that simple. But even during those times, the heart will find what it needs if you let it. It’s in the moments when the sun is shining, or when the wind is at your back, when your feet feel light and your heart is happy. Eventually it will be 13 years later and you’ll look back to realize you don’t even remember the pain, all you can see is the beauty that came from it. And all that remains is love.
Happy 13th Birthday, Little Al.